Kidney stones are deposits of minerals or uric acid in the kidney that become rock solid over the period of time. These stones can be of different sizes, and some may become very large. The stones can cause a range of problems, including pain and kidney dysfunction. While small kidney stones can easily pass out of the body, the large-sized stones are often the problematic ones. To remove these large-sized kidney stones, doctors recommend surgical procedures.
Some of the common conditions when the doctors suggest kidney stone surgery include:
- The large-sized stone that cannot pass on its own.
- Acute pain
- The stone causes blockage of urine from the bladder
- The stone causes urinary tract infections
Different types of kidney stone surgeries
There are various surgical procedures aimed at treating kidney stones. The four popular surgical treatments for kidney stones include:
- Shock wave lithotripsy
- Percutaneous nephrolithotomy or percutaneous nephrolithotripsy
- Open surgery
- Shock wave lithotripsy (SWL)
One of the popularly recommended kidney stone treatment is Shock wave lithotripsy (SWL). The treatment is effective when the patients have small to medium-sized stones. It is a non-invasive treatment and performed under general anesthesia. High energy shockwaves (ultrasound or X-rays) are aimed at the kidney from the outside. The shockwaves burst the stones into several small pieces and these pieces pass out with the urine. In certain cases, the doctor might place a stent into the ureter to make more passage. The treatment has a great success rate and is rated as one of the most efficient options.
Ureteroscopy is an effective treatment for kidney and ureter stones. The stones are removed using a thin and flexible scope. The patient is under the influence of general anesthesia while the scope is passed through the ureter to the kidney. The stones are taken out one after another. In case there is a larger stone, the doctor would use the Shock Wave Lithotripsy treatment first to break the large stone into smaller pieces. It is a versatile treatment option which is successful in most of the cases. However, sometimes, it may give rise to infections or bleeding.
Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy or Percutaneous Nephrolithotripsy
In case the patient has large stones that are tough to break, the doctors use Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy or Percutaneous Nephrolithotripsy as a surgical procedure. In this procedure, the doctor uses a high-frequency sound wave to burst the stone into small pieces. A small scope is inserted in your body through a small incision made on the back or side of your body. This surgical procedure takes 20-45 minutes for the complete removal of stones. The stones are either removed through a tube or a shock wave is used to burst them and then the pieces are vacuumed out of the body. The treatment is primarily for large and medium-sized complex stones. It is a successful procedure as it clears the kidney stones, no matter how many in numbers, in one go.
Once a popular procedure, open surgery for kidney stones is not much recommended nowadays. However, in certain cases, doctors may recommend open surgery depending upon various factors. Most of the time open surgery is recommended in case there are large stones stuck in your ureter or the patient is in a lot of pain. However, the best kidney stone hospitals are now well-equipped to perform such operation with minimally invasive methods. The use of open surgery has become limited and is recommended only if the patient has bleeding, infection, or the flow of urine is obstructed completely. The patient is given anesthesia to stay unconscious while the doctors perform the procedure. The doctor uses specialized equipment to perform the surgery.